Those of you that are still using Windows know this:  You get regular patches every Tuesday from Microsoft (provided that they are important patches).  Ignore these at your peril.  As one of the most popular operating systems in the world, Microsoft is subject to attacks by "black-hat" hackers for a number of reasons.  The best thing that you, the average computer user, can do is to make sure that you get regular updates for XP, Vista and Windows 7.  Since this advice column is for the home user, I recommend that you either have the Updates done automatically, or have them downloaded then you can review what each update does.  Some updates aren't needed, but most of the time, they are.
This weeks post deals specifically with the subject of computer security.  Now, mind you, people who don't have good security policies on their home PC are not to be mocked, for they are often the ones that need my help the most.

That said, here are some basics that you, the regular joe, can do to keep your system safe, sane and secure.
1. Always make sure you have the latest patches from Microsoft:  Windows is the most ubiquitous operating system on the PC market today, with Linux coming in second.  Microsoft wants to make sure that the version that you are running is the most up to date.  This means making sure that your auto-update feature works.   A word to the wise for those of you running Dells and HP computers: Make sure that the update managers for your respective PCs are running and current.  If there are any issues, contact them.
2. Have an Anti-Virus program running and make sure it's kept up to date:  I recommend AVG, Avast and for those of you on a tight budget, Clam AV for Windows. Also, don't be fooled if you are running an existing AV program and get a pop up saying that your computer is unprotected.  Most OEM PCs like Dell, HP and the like have their own built-in AV program that you can use for a limited time.  Chances are, they won't send you a pop up.  Which means if you've clicked on that pop up you have fallen prey to "scareware"
3. Speaking of pop ups and the like, if you get an attachment from someone that you know, make sure it's legit:  Most AV programs have an email scanner that can scan all incoming emails.  If the program says don't open it, contact your friend and ask them if they sent you anything.  If they didn't, do not open the email, just send it to the trash.
4.  Physically security:  You can have the best password in the world for your BIOS, your OS and so forth, but that's not going to amount to a hill of beans if someone steals your laptop from your bag, or breaks into your apartment and steals your desktop.  If you have a laptop, make sure that it is secure.  This means taking it with you or storing it under your feet if you're on a plane.  If you have to leave it in the office overnight, use a cable lock, a laptop locker, or a desk drawer that locks. Also consider using a theft-prevention plate, which is a permanent bar code mounted onto the PDA or laptop that tells the would-be thief that he or she cannot sell this laptop and the police will know how to find it.
5. Always make sure your data is backed up.  Sometimes, life happens, and your PC gets lost or damaged or whatever.  As long as your essential data is backed up (a service that we provide here at KUO), you need not worry.
Today's topic is keeping your desktop clean.
If you're a Windows user, chances are you've probably got a lot of icons on your desktop.  Don't be ashamed to admit it, because once upon a time, yours truly had a lot of icons on his desktop.   But then I got an idea.  I noticed that the desktop was taking longer and longer to load up, and my computer performance was going way down.  I tried everything.  Running disk clean up, doing a defragmentation, the whole works.

Then, a good friend asked why I had so many items on my desktop?  He then explained that the OS has to process all those shortcuts, which in turn will afffect your performance.

"So what's the solution?" you ask.  Well, here's what I do.  I create folders.  Each folder has a specific purpose.  Games, Internet programs, PC utilities, you name it I made a folder for it.

In Windows XP, you right-click, then mouse over to New, then Folder and click with the left mouse button.  Then you type the name of the folder, (For example, Games for games that you have shortcuts to.)  Then after you create the folder, just drag each corresponding shortcut to the appropriate folder and drop it in.   It's that simple.  Vista and Windows 7 users should be able to do the same thing.

No videos this week, but if anyone has a question, feel free to contact me.
Welcome to Keeping U Online, your one place for PC Diagnostics and Repair.  This blog is going to be the space for general tips on how to keep and maintain your PC.  Today's Topic:  General Cleaning.

So you got this brand spanking new PC a year ago, but now it's giving you all kinds of trouble.  It's booting slow, or worse yet, it's crashing and then restarting.  Sometimes it can be a symptom of something critical that needs replacing, but more often than not, it's something simple, like keeping the inside of your PC clean.

Your PC is a hotbed of dust and dirt.  The fans that you have on it are like lungs for your body.  They take air in and breathe it out.  This keeps essential components like your video card, your power supply and even your motherboard cool.  Now imagine if all those things couldn't get proper air flow.  Well, then you'd have a problem.

The solution?  Easy, go to a place like Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, or even Lowe's and Home Depot and get a can of compressed air.  After this, go to your PC and open the case.  Some may be easy to open but many would require a screwdriver.  Of course, turn the thing off before you do this, then take the can of air and blow into your fans.  Your power supply and the main PC should be the first to be cleaned.  Also blow into the heat-sink fan located on your motherboard, it should be fairly obvious which one it is.  In addition, if you're like me and have a high end video card that has a heatsink and fan attached to it, you should probably blow that out as well.

After the dust settles, put the cover to the case back on and power it up.  Do this about one a month (or every two weeks if you have cats or dogs) and you won't have any problems.

Next time, we talk about keeping your desktop clean.

Edit:  Below is some tips on how to keep your computer clean.  I also recommend that you use a can of compressed air.